Letters From Readers
N.B. —Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and "Motor Sport" does not necessarily associate itself with them. —Ed.
THE FORD CORTINA GT
Mr. Ralph Canter in his letter in your September issue describes the Cortina GT as uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. I am sure that you, Sir, and many other readers will strongly disagree.
After 43 years' driving, covering over 500,000 miles in every kind of car, from vintage Austin 7s and 12s to 3- 4.5-litre Bentleys and various moderns, I consider my 1965 Cortina GT an outstanding motor car and remarkable value for money. It is quiet, comfortable, roomy, surefooted and fast over give-and-take cross-country journeys. Its excellent acceleration and controllability make it unusually safe.
The most dangerous cars I have driven were large Americans of the 1920s. The greatest peril on the roads today is the over-driven, underpowered small car: on almost every journey one faces crisis and heavy braking on one or more bends, owing to dangerous overtaking by drivers of these small underpowered cars.
I should like to congratulate you on maintaining the high standard of MOTOR SPORT. One has seen the unfortunate results of attempts to " improve" or " modernise " other journals and I trust that pressure or temptation to alter the format of MOTOR SPORT will be resisted.
Leek. J. N. H. PURSAILL.
THE ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER CLOUD III ROAD-TEST
As one who was very critical of your editorial early last year about current Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, May I now write and congratulate you on your impressions of the Silver Cloud III, as expressed in the September issue. I would accept your write-up as a very fair and correct assessment of these wonderful cars. I would perhaps not agree that it is best to operate the hand-brake with the left hand but it is true that the makers are able to attain the best compromise in most circumstances!
Truly it is an easy car to handle and one only realises that it is 17 ft. 6.25 in. long if it is necessary to park in a congested area!
You refer to the "old-fashioned vertical internal door handles " and here I have to agree with you. To lock or unlock the rear nearside door from the driver's seat is something that makes me ask certain searching questions every time I have to do it. I am not one who has a chauffeur to do it for me; I have and drive the car for the sheer joy and constant trouble-free service it gives me.
My present car is a 1961 S.II Bentley, which I hope to change for a new one in about two years time when my present car will have done well over 100,000 miles.
I would hope there will be a new model in production by then and if it is as far ahead of the " S " series as this was of the " R " type then I am in for even greater pleasure, if that is possible.
West Hagley. Norman Grove.
[See page 996.—ED.]
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
At 7 p.m. on a recent Friday, in heavy traffic and pouring rain, the clutch cable on my VW broke and left me gearless in Marlborough. I was making for Bristol, laden with luggage. Fortunately, as it proved, the Bridge Garage owned by Mr. Swanton was only a few yards away. Although closed except for petrol. Mr. Swanton cheerfully came to my help, towed the VW in, offered me a Hillman Minx in which to complete my journey, and promised to have the VW ready the following day. Such excellent service, willingly given, deserves credit. Usual disclaimers.
London, W,C.2. P. E. GORDON-MARSHALL.
THE COST OF BRAKE LININGS
I read in a recent Daily Mail of mercury being £3 10s. per lb,. due to a world shortage of this metal.
Can you tell me why brake linings should cost £6 4s. per lb. excluding shoes and rivets? Oxford and A40 linings come out at 7s. 9d. per ounce.
Liverpool, 4 S. Hall
STARTING THE EDITORIAL MORRIS 1100
You did Joe Lucas an injustice! Who supplied the faulty electrical equipment on the Editorial 1100?
Wantage. J. L. .Jones
[Maybe! What I intended to get over was the fact that the Lucas battery was reasonably healthy after nearly three years' neglect but it appeared to be losing its powers because the carburation had become so bad that the engine didn't want to fire. However, in the next 2,000 miles the direction indicator control has failed again and the starter now refuses to turn the engine, so perhaps Mr. Jones has a point!—ED.
ANOTHER SATISFIED FIAT 500 OWNER
I was very interested to read your second interim report on the Fiat 500D, and fully agree with your favourable comments.
You may be interested to know that I have just completed a fortnight's tour on the Continent in a 500D (Dec. 1964). Starting with 7,700 miles on the clock, my wife and I, plus a load of camping equipment, really thrashed the car for 2,800 miles (incidentally including a visit to Monza for the Italian G.P.).
The car returned a petrol consumption of 54 m.p.g. overall and used only 1.5 pints of oil throughout. The only trouble we had was when the distributor contacts burned out. This was speedily and efficiently rectified by a General Motors agent in Switzerland.
Needless to say we are delighted that the car stood up to such a hammering, and I believe it may be quite some time before you are able to give us a full and final report on the car which you have under test at the moment.
Finally, many thanks for a fine magazine.
Halifax. ANTHONY B. HAYMER
MINI v. IMP
What a vastly improved car the Mini is now after six years of production. It was a disgrace, in my view, that the Mini was originally allowed on the market in its then state of complete underdevelopment. To say that B.M.C. had been developing the car since 1952 at a cost of £10,000,000 seems laughable when one considers the original defective design parts.
For example : It took B.M.C. until October 1962 to fit effective syncromesh to the gears, the original wipers did not properly suit the windscreen, the original heater/demister unit served only to fog the windows, the original wheels were too frail and tended to crack, the body leaked water, the dampers were exceptionally short lived, as were the drive-shafts, the hand-brake seized regularly in the tubes through which the cable passed, the linings in the doors and rear parcel shelf wrinkled like a rough sea, the inadequate brakes called for constant adjustment, and the seats were extremely uncomfortable, etc., etc.
Despite these detects, all of which have been attended to over the years, there was little hue and cry amongst the general public compared to the criticisms one hears of the Imp by people who have never even sat in one. In fact, there seems a popular movement to decry the Imp, which in my view was in a far more advanced state of development on introduction to the public than the original Mini. The pneumatic throttle, automatic choke, water problems and scuttle shake were early troubles, all of which have been put right.
The Imp is quieter, the engine smoother and more advanced, the gearbox is more pleasant to use, and generally it is faster and only marginally inferior to the Mini in road-holding and cornering power. The de luxe Imp is only marginally more expensive than the comparative Mini.
I own a 1959 Mini and have done so for some years and have also driven a great many other Minis, including the latest models. I have also had a large number of driving hours in an Imp, an early model, and I just cannot understand why so many people have criticised this car.
My next purchase will undoubtedly be an Imp or one of its derivatives. Is it my imagination or is this unfair criticism of the Imp general in the country?
I must of course add that I have no connection whatsoever with the Motor Trade.
[Name and address supplied.—ED.]
THE PETERBOROUGH POLICE ARE WONDERFUL
I have recently been involved in my first accident (my Jaguar collided with a Mini trying to do a U-turn from the grass verge by a woman who had rather too much to drink). The Peterborough police were wonderful, and not every member of the public is critical towards " Noddy," as the Editor seems to think.
In my 19 years of driving I have not yet seen an armed criminal roaming free, but I have seen many fatal accidents-on the roads. some no doubt caused from what you may consider motoring offences of a minor nature.
If ever your correspondent " Public Opinion " is in the same position as I was, he will be really amazed at the help, understanding and kindness given by our police.
Please, Editor, do not adopt the same attitude to our wonderful Police Force as you used to adopt towards the best car in the World.
Leicester. JOHN K. THOMAS.
BRITISH IS BEST?
How about a word in your columns about our British rear-engine car, the Hillman Imp, instead of the better,known (and publicised) German make.
I have recently completed a tour of Scotland in mine; 2,500 happy miles at 41 miles per gallon and only three pints of oil, even with those hills!
Be British, I say!
Shepshed. I. R. MARVIN.
A MAGNANIMOUS GESTURE
What a magnanimous gesture by J. P. M. Jolley (October 1965), recommending we all pay a minimum of £20 Road Tax and £30 insurance (who let him in). Could his suggestion stem from the fact that to put his souped-up Ford Anglia on the road his insurance is rated at £30, trusting, of course, that his insurance company do know his Anglia is modified!
A magnanimous gesture to him!
Malvern. J. CHAMBERS.
With reference to Mr. J. P. M. Jolley's letter in the October issue, I should like to point out to Mr. Jolley that if the " other " 80 or 90% of his suggested £20 road tax were spent on the roads of Britain the public would be only too glad to pay this sum. Also, please bear in mind that the insurance premiums; whereas they are enforced by law, are, of course, affixed by the insurance companies themselves.
I am a young motorist, using my car for both pleasure (and there is still some to be had) and business; I most certainly do not earn £18, as I am sure most other readers do not. No, it is the overtime/125-hour-a-week men in our illustrious car factories who earn sums such as these, and other privileged persons in the upper wage bracket, as I am sure Mr. Jolley knows from personal experience.
Please, oh, please,can I have a go at Mr. Jolley ? I shall look out for him outside Parliament whilst he waits for H. S. Wild-man. . . Anyone for tennis?
Romsey. N. BEECH.
DRIVING TUITION IN SCHOOLS
I was most interested to read your leader " Driving Tuition in Schools " in the October issue, where it was stated that you wished to hear from establishments working on these lines.
You will doubtless be interested to know that here we operate two 1951 Alvis TA21 saloons, both of which were acquired in a semi-derelict state. The senior boys have repaired and rebuilt one car by cannibalising the other, which itself is now stripped and is being rebuilt from the chassis up, providing at the same time valuable visual aid material for explaining the workings of engine and transmission.
Meanwhile the repaired car is being used in our two large playgrounds for the purpose of driving tuition. All our senior pupils, boys and girls, have driven the car, its large size engendering confidence rather than awe. The fact that they have worked on, and understood, the mechanical components prior to driving, will, I feel, enable them to gain greater enjoyment from their future motoring. Repairs, adjustments and servicing are carried out as necessary by the young drivers.
David Culshaw, Technical Department, Lancashire Education Committee, St Joseph's R.C. Secondary School, Horwick
[This is just the sort of tuition we had in mind, and the kind which in our opinion should do the most good. Motor-minded young men and women want to drive and learn about cars, not listen to stuffy lectures about how dangerous their elders believe motoring to be. Safe driving should be achieved by subtle means and by setting good examples, rather than by policemen taking a class on what must seem like just another subject. So we advocate this rebuilding of old cars, driving them on private ground and generally playing with and getting to know cars, with sensible reminders of the need to be very careful, and comply with the Law, when driving from experienced motorists among the teaching staff. Good show, St. Joseph's.—ED.]
With reference to the lead article in your October issue, I should like to bring to your notice the record of St. Michael's School, Ingoldisthorpe, King's Lynn, Norfolk: The school at present runs no less than five vehicles, probably more at time of writing. I have lost count. These include two double-decker 'buses, a large Commer van, a Minibus and a Hillman Husky with dual controls.
The instigator of all this is the Rev. R. P. Pott, Vicar of Heacham and Headmaster of the school, who, I have heard say, used to arrive at the school in the early days on a large and powerful motor-bike.
I doubt whether any other school in the country has quite such a comprehensive range of vehicles at its disposal, or has been teaching pupils to drive for so long. If so, I should be more than interested to hear about it in the columns of your excellent magazine.
Finchley, N.3. K. D. Colman.
With reference to your Editorial on driving tuition in schools, might I give you some details of the scheme supported by the London Borough of Bexley, through this department.
It has long been my opinion that posters, etc., have only a limited effect and that good driving is the only long-term answer which will bring about a reduction in road casualties. It is, however, our intention to offer to all senior schools in this Borough a fully comprehensive training scheme which will lay the foundation to a good driving technique.
This course will be open to any pupil nominated by the Head Teacher. In this respect we lag behind American schools which for some time have had this facility.
In addition to this we are examining the possibility of providing a training track, together with a skid pan and classrooms on which practical tuition can be given to the junior drivers before they embark on our already over-crowded roads. This, however, would not preclude driving clubs, etc., from using the skid pan or reputable driving schools from using the track, which would also be used for the training of child cyclists, learner motor-cyclists through the R.A.C./A.C.U. Training Scheme, and invalid carriage drivers.
It is indeed of great assistance to us to know that we have the support and encouragement of responsible persons such as yourself backed as it is by experience of motoring matters.
Eric Crouch Road Safely Organiser. London Borough of Bexley.
Congratulations on your comment in " Matters of Moment " regarding driving tuition in schools. I believe your ideas on the teaching of driving to children on playgrounds, etc., to be similar to ours.
For two years a colleague and I have run a Motor Club here at school using a 1947 Standard for tuition, until it got beyond repair. Owing to the demand for this tuition we have reorganised this year as follows :
Six young masters give up one hour (4-5 p.m.) on one evening of the school week (one is a reserve instructor, in case, for any reason, an instructor cannot stay) and each have six pupils. We limit the Club to 30 members and have a waiting list.
We now have a 1951 Ford Consul and the pupils drive on the field and playground—learning the art of driving a car, a little of the Highway Code and maintenance.
We have had many girls in our Club in the past and have four at the moment. The Club is open to boys and girls but there is much less interest shown in driving by the girls.
Need I say we all enjoy these evenings. I am enclosing our Motor Club card (printed on the school press). One thing you may be able to assist us with—do you know any source for rubber or inflatable markers (free ?), secondhand—discarded ? We sometimes use rounders posts but that is dangerous to both car and post, as they are Concrete and wood.
Brian Ricketts, Totton
YOU NAME 'EM
I am feet-upwise perusing the 1965 Gold Cup Meeting report. I am seeing that a device called Repco-Brabham-Cosworth-Ford has booked into fourth slot, and I am thinking how kinky can you get. Man, these titles get worse, like as if some boozed-up nut has thought them up messagewise. And man, The August Bank Holiday at Brands. The McLaren-Elva-Oldsmobile-V8. Jeeze! How much longer I thinks must this jazz continue. The Boddy Man must put the finger on the Continental Correspondent. He's the one. Groovy with these fantabulous names like for kicks. I am now diving like crazy from the pad for my LucasGoodyear-Zenith-Girling-Autolite-SmithsMobil-Ford/Zephyr 6 to make the Pony Express station downtown in order that you may dig me.
Rotton Park. B.H. Shilvock
[By gad Sir! - ED]
How heartily I agree with D. S. J. when he says " passengers for 2-seater sports/racing machines," May I be one of the first to volunteer for a position!
While on the subject of passengers in competition cars, what about passengers for all cars with two or more seats? A "riding mechanic" in saloon cars would not be amiss. The extra responsibility may help to curb the often over-exuberant and sometimes downright dangerous driving that seems to plague this category of racing. On second thoughts, I think "riding panel-beater " would be more apt than " mechanic "!
In closing, may I congratulate you on last month's issue, especially that colour section. Please keep up the good work.
Huntingdon. S. M. Howe.
YET ANOTHER FIAT 500D ENTHUSIAST
I read your article on the Fiat 500D (October 1965) with much interest, for my mother's 1964 Fiat 500D has had an almost identical history. It has now completed 7,250 miles with very little trouble, except. for a faulty battery (which was quickly replaced tree of charge) and some trouble with the throttle cable.
I am 18 years old and since I passed my driving test last winter have driven the car every week-end, while my mother uses it during the week. Last August I talked my parents into allowing me to drive the car to Scotland for the holidays. The little Fiat went on for mile after mile with its speedometer recording its maximum level of 69 m.p.h., and found no difficulty in keeping up with the other family car, a Triumph Herald 12/50. Indeed I often had to wait for up to a quarter of an hour for the Triumph to catch up. The return journey from Scotland was completed in just over to hours. Just over 2,000 miles were travelled, using the cheapest petrol, the consumption working out at 55 m.p.g.
The Fiat 500D is a wonderful car to drive, especially when there is a Mini on your tail! The crash gearbox adds to the challenge that you feel when you sit behind the wheel. I consider its suspension to be even better than B.M.G.'s hydrolastic suspension, and its road-holding is extremely good, despite the rear engine. If you are willing to use the gears and keep your foot hard down on the accelerator, you can usually keep up with all but the largest engined cars. I only wish my mother would buy a new one so that I could have this one!
Guildford. Ian Donald
IN PRAISE OF AN N.S.U.
As a firm believer that your excellent MOTOR SPORT is the finest one of its kind published, may I be permitted to say that, out of all the cars that people have " praised " and " moaned about," no one seems to spare a thought for the car of which I am now the very proud owner. It is a 1964 N.S.U. Sport Prinz, and what a car. it is, in my opinion, one of the finest little GT cars available today and although only 598 c.c., its performance, road-holding, fuel consumption, i.e., at 54 m.p.h, 50 m.p.g., and its 30 b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m., is superb.
Having previously owned a Mini with usual engine " mods,' I have no regrets at all in making a change to " one of those foreign cars." All the things the British manufacturer considers are extras are standard equipment, windscreen washer, good tool kit, electric clock, headlamp flasher, horn ring, lockable steering. You name it, it's got it.
If you can find it possible to give a little space in your " Letters from Readers " column so that people may get to know of this little car and its charming features, I shall be very grateful, and would love to hear from other Prinz owners, too.
Winchester. Graham Goodwin
After making a journey of a few miles into the obscurity of Mid Wales I came across a small pub in the village of Llangammarch-Wells, at which I stopped for a few beers.
Later on in the evening I had the pleasure to meet Innes Ireland, and I can assure you he wasn't drinking milk.
Thank you for your excellent reports on Grand Prix racing.
Llandovery M. Nicholas
U.S. TAKE-OVER AGAIN
Having been a regular but lazy reader of your excellent journal for many years now, I am at last roused to write to you after reading C. J. C. Tennant's letter in the October issue. How refreshing it is to hear from someone who genuinely has the interests of the Sport, as we know it, at heart.
The American take-over, when it becomes successful, will obviously reap great benefits for the manufacturers concerned in the way-of publicity and sales. May I suggest that we see far too little trumpet blowing from Maranello in our National Press after their GT and Sports victories Perhaps if they capitalised on their victories a little more, then Ferrari might provide more serious sales competition against British and American luxury GT cars in this country.
Palmers Green, N.13 D.C. Barratt